The top U23 men’s league in North America, the USL Premier Development League (PDL) features over 60 teams within four conferences across the United States and Canada. The PDL is the who’s who of future domestic and international stars in North America and has proven to be an important stepping-stone for top professionals now playing throughout the world. Several PDL teams have MLS connections such as Vancouver Whitecaps FC U23, Portland Timbers U23, Sounders FC U23, and Chicago Fire. PDL teams routinely place their players into MLS and on average the MLS SuperDraft is comprised of over 70% PDL players.
The PDL prides itself on its professionalism in terms of its organization and the way the league is run, and its dedication to developing young soccer players, preparing them for future careers in professional leagues in the United States and elsewhere. The PDL season consists of 16 regular season matches for each team, 8 home and 8 away. In addition to league play, PDL teams compete in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as well as various exhibitions. PDL rules dictate that a maximum of eight players on each team’s 26-man roster can be over 23 years old, while at least three players on each team’s roster must be 18 or younger. As such, typically a player pool is drawn mainly from elite college players, international prospects and superstar youth.